Last summer, APSCUF went behind the scenes to show how faculty members and coaches continue to devote themselves to affordable, quality education even when class is not in session. This post is a continuation of that series.
I’m often told “It must be great being a professor … you get the whole summer off!” Those of us who teach most likely don’t have many colleagues who have the “whole summer” off. Indeed.
As someone who has taught in higher education for 15+ years, I cannot remember one summer where I was able to spend every day with a cool drink and my feet up, lounging on the patio with nary a care on my mind. And I like it that way. Here’s what summer looks like for this social-work faculty member at Millersville University.
Once the spring semester ends, we enter grades, then a day or so after graduation, those of us who teach summer classes are back in the classroom. In my case, at Millersville University, summer session starts in early May and ends in mid-August. While I don’t carry a teaching load of five classes, as I do in the fall and spring, I teach two social-work courses at the graduate level, and along with them, the attendant grading, discussion, and planning take place. I’m also one of those instructors who, when monitoring and teaching an online class, likes to craft individual responses to each of my students on discussion boards. Time consuming, yes; a great deal of reading, yes; but I hope it enhances and enriches the learning experience for our students. Further, the learning experience is heightened for me, as I absorb a great deal about our students through their posts.
Two courses? Piece o’ cake, right? Sure. But it doesn’t end there. This is my promotion-and-tenure year, so I have to write my P&T application narrative. I have to collate, collect, and search through all of my documents from the past five years. Each day I am not teaching is spent writing and compiling information for the application packet. Remember those days writing your dissertation? Completing the P&T packet is similar to those days, only now I am also teaching, conducting a research study, completing two journal articles, presenting at conferences and working on task forces for the Council on Social Work Education, and meeting with peers to discuss departmental matters and programmatic issues. At least during the summer, I loosen up a bit and allow myself to wear Hawaiian shirts on a more regular basis.
The School of Social Work started a Doctor of Social Work program along with Kutztown University several years ago. So, here at Millersville, we are involved throughout the year with monitoring our advisees’ progress on their comprehensive papers, assisting with their Institutional Review Board applications, and meeting students regularly to provide advice and guidance throughout the DSW process. Did I mention we meet with students throughout the summer as well? BSW, MSW, DSW … our doors are open for all of our students.
Maybe the teaching load is a bit lighter in the summer, but the workload remains constant. That’s a good thing for me because I love what I do, and I love my school and my department. It also helps that I don’t like the beach, but that’s another story. I do have a few more minutes to walk my dog in the morning during the summer, though. Don’t think I am complaining. I’m merely illustrating what all of us in APSCUF do for our departments and schools, and most important, our students. I came to academia late, after spending a number of years in the business world and as a practicing social worker. Fortunately for me, I knew and was well aware that higher education is a calling, and thus there are no 37.5-hour weeks or eight-hour days or summers off. I have found that effective teachers, when they are not teaching, are thinking about teaching.
I appreciate this great profession of ours, and I find myself saying, “I can’t believe I do this for a living now” — even in the summer.
Dr. Marc Felizzi is an assistant professor of social work at Millersville University.